Thursday, April 23, 2009

"Peace, Love and Happiness: the Next Generation"

Catchy title, yes? Over the weekend my son DVRd several episodes of Star Wars movies on TV, and since then, many of my thoughts have an additional tag, like, "Chicken Wings for Dinner: the Next Dietary Revolution" or "25 Tomato Plants Sprouting: My Next Career." Gotta keep it fun while in The Chair, I guess.....Anyway this blog is focused on the ("Most of the Time") in my blog title because......

Today is National Bring Your Child to Work Day. Which poses a problem for this Momertator (mom + dissertator=.....). My son is 9. A very cool 9, I might add. And, he's witnessed me doing all sorts of things to make some money including teaching piano students in our house (himself included), being in church every week as I lead choirs and congregations, tending to poinsettias at the ol' greenhouse, posting items and mailing stuff to customers from Ebay and Amazon, babysitting other people's children, I mean, the list goes on and on. But, as far as my "job" while he's in school relative to the chronology of other people's days (meaning those with more conventional employment, like 9-5ers), I am at home writing. So what does he do on a day like today? Pull up another Chair and become introduced to the mesmerizing world of writing a Dissertation? ah-hem......I am crazy, but not that crazy....

So, since it's Thursday, I'm taking him with me to the class I teach tonight. And, I've mentioned before that this is the class of 115 college freshman through seniors taking Music Appreciation from Professor Brady, yes? It's a huge room, there are many "interesting" factors to teaching a class this big, and the material is watered-down music history for the masses. But what other choice do I have at this juncture?

I'm kind of eager to see how this goes, and I have no uneasiness that my students, many of whom are 19+ but behave younger than my little son, will be fine and not act like jackasses. (Disclaimer #1: I have many great students in this class, but unfortunately, probability demonstrates that with a class this big, a portion will be assholes. And probability has proven correct yet again.).

Lately my son has been asking more direct questions about what I "do." This always makes me break out into a cold sweat, by the way, if only for a flash of a second. He saw me grading 115 quizzes over the past few evenings (and during part of the Star Wars marathon) and was curious. On the plane back from Denver last month, I had their tests and he watched my red Sharpie slash away at incorrect answers. He even offered comments like, "that kid didn't study much, huh, Mom?" or "do they have a music book to learn this like I have a math book?" etc. So he knows I'm a "teacher," but he has also asked lately about the hierarchy of education. He's in 3rd grade and his teacher is GREAT, but he's an active kid and can get bored at the same desk in the same room and so on (February was ROUGH on all of us). His favorite classes are gym and lunch even as he has straight As....that sort of thing. A friend of ours has a son in junior high (our term for "middle school" in these parts), and our sons play together often. Mine is fascinated with the whole changing-classes thing and having-your-own-locker thing that happens in 7th grade. He's DYING to be in junior high. (Disclaimer #2: I hope the bubble doesn't burst once he gets there. You couldn't pay me 19 bazillion dollars to return to 7th grade. For real. And I need the money!)

When asked, I've explained to him how he'll go to junior high then high school then college (planting the seed early on that yes, indeed, college is in the grand plan). And, I've mentioned how some kids live at home and commute to places like the University of Buffalo or Buff State and how some move away from home and live at their school. His eyes grew big and he sort of shyly told me that he'd like to live at school (which brought immediate tears to my eyes accompanied by a proud smile from his Momertator). *sigh* Nine years left.....

Oddly, this all leads me to think very little about how things will go tonight...we'll pack a bag of tricks for him and he'll help me pass things out and whatnot. I'm going to give him a little tour of campus, the Music Building, my office, the library, grab a snack at my little coffee cart, etc. He'll be fine. Instead, my mind wanders/wonders about what HE will be like when he finds himself a seat in a big lecture hall at his future campus. From my perspective, I look at my students week to week, and many former students I see on campus, and witness, sometimes in utter astonishment, their physically "adult" status and their conceptually (in my mind) "kid" status. I wonder what he'll think about his teachers, how he will get himself to class, what he'll do outside of class (tough one, there) and how he will be viewed by his peers and professors. I have no worries about his academics and interests and socializing (which those of you who know him will probably concur). But, man, will he carry some of the joy and optimism and hippie-tye-dye of his momma through such a quagmire of experiences? Will he find something he REALLY DIGS and forge his way ahead toward it? Will he believe in the ultimate goodness in the world even as so many around him demonstrate the opposite? Will he be happy? *Gulp.*

....I have a fascinating window from which to peer into this world due to this particular aspect of my "work day," don't I....every semester I watch my students grow yet they stay the same...I will always have freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors. Just their faces change. My son, however, will gradually get closer to them and soon, those worlds will collide. It blows my mind and I am slightly exhilarated and slightly uncomfortable at the same time.

It makes me cherish every moment of him and my Momertator status even though I often forget to do that. I know I bitch about and bemoan my life "status" as it is right now, but holy shit....soon it will change. He will change, maybe even a bit by the time he jumps off the bus later today! So, remind me that I wouldn't change this for the world, or even 19 bazillion dollars, K?

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